Rendezvous with Eileen from FamiliesGo!

Blogger Interview with a New York Family with Wanderlust

 Welcome to a Rendezvous with Rovers! One of my favorite things to do is connect with bloggers from all over the world, in this blogger interview I’m happy to introduce to you Eileen from FamiliesGo! Her website is a great go-to for anything to do with family travel from destinations, what to pack, and some really useful hints!
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Where do you live now?  Tell us a little about where you are from.

I am a dyed-in- the-wool New Yorker. Grew up in Queens, went to NYU, married a guy from the Bronx and settled in Brooklyn. The outer boroughs of the city, at least Brooklyn and Queens are far cooler than they were when I was growing up and only Manhattan mattered. There is a lot of culture (high and hipster), kid friendly destinations, and ethnic diversity (and good cheap eats) in the outer boroughs and I always encourage visitors to cross the East River and check out Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx, at least for a day. Something like 112 languages are spoken in Queens. It is  probably the most diverse place on earth.

For families a fun afternoon is a trip to the queens museum or the hall of science, followed by Indian food in a neighborhood called Jackson Heights, ideally at the Jackson diner, which has a cheap, good, and popular buffet lunch.
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What inspires you to travel?  What types of places call to you?  How often do you get to travel?

There are people who have the travel bug and people who don’t. And I don’t know why some folks get it and some folks don’t. I was lucky enough to go on a summer travel program to Ireland when I was in high school and I guess I had enough of the bug to try that, but an experience like that at that age really sets you on the path of lifetime travel. It was amazing to be able to experience first hand a place so different from home and to study the differences and commonalities. Ireland was still a not well off country in the 80s and I came home with a keen appreciation for how cushy we Americans have things. Despite the lack of hot showers, sunshine and seasoning in their food I had a lot of fun and so it made me want to see what other places were like.
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Describe your travel philosophy.  What is your style?  Are you more of a luxury traveler or is backpacking more your style?  Do you like to be in control and do all your own planning, or do you like to let go and go on tours or go to a travel agent to help out?  Do you like to pack a lot into a day or take it easy and follow your whims?

Some years ago we were driving around Newfoundland. At one of its national parks we were going to rent a canoe, row and portage to a backwoods campsite and stay overnight. But the weather report was for cold and rain.  We thought we could deal with one or the other, not both. So we went to the only hotel we could find, a large and nice resort with a heated pool, stylish restaurant, maybe even a golf course?  So we managed to still canoe but went back to the hotel to eat and sleep. My husband had salmon in papillote and I had something similarly fancy. We were eating and enjoying it immensely and joking about how disappointing it was to not to be cooking canned beans and ramen noodles over a fire.

So I think our style is that we are flexible. We appreciate the comfort and services at a resort. But we can also have fun backwoods camping and eating ramen noodles, which we did elsewhere on that trip. In Asia And Europe we’ll tend toward smaller hotels that have amenities but local flavor. In the U.S., we go for the convenience of larger brand name hotels. Now that we are traveling with a child we like to have a pool, and we’ve also done vacation home rentals and a home swap for the first time, because with kids a kitchen and room to sprawl is nice.
It did take my husband a while to come around to staying at resorts. He sort of believed travel had to be a little challenging to be real. But after a week in Mexico City I convinced him to go to the west coast for a few days. He was skeptical and afraid there would be “nothing to do.” But we spent the first day reading, swimming, eating tacos, drinking beer on our hotel balcony while looking at the ocean. And a light went on, so this is what relaxing is! So now we try to mix it up, a little culture/adventure/roughing it/cramming a lot in, and a few days chilling out.
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What types of things are you interested in while you are traveling?  Is it adventure/adrenalin or history/culture?  Do you want to relax on the beach or hike around ruins?

Actually, the ideal trip involves a little of all that. We are not adrenalin junkies though. I would say soft adventure is our style. Hiking, kayaking, not bungee jumping.

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As a family blogger is there any big obstacles that you encounter?  Are there any tried and true tips you can share with us?

I think the obstacles to do with family travel are small and manageable if you accept that traveling with kids is not bad, but it’s different. You do have to plan more, you have to slow your pace down and take playing breaks between site seeing activities. You care more about where you stay because you do spend more time there. You eat and hang out in your lodging more in the morning and evening; you don’t just sleep there.  You have to appreciate that kids are kids, even on vacation. They still get tired, cranky, hungry, bored, homesick, especially when they are taken out of their routine. So it’s important to stick to your routine enough that they stay rested and fed, but that you are flexible enough that you enjoy yourselves. It gets easier as they get older and more flexible.  I find it hard to get good information about things to do that both adults and kids can enjoy, And about the amenities I need in places to stay. This is why I started FamiliesGo! To give parents really good, relevant travel information.

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Everyone always asks the impossible question of what is your favorite, but just tell us a couple of places that you just loved or surprised you, or a place you find yourself going back to.

I love Bali and I love Hong Kong. I wish they were not so far away. Hong Kong has an energy and a mash of old and new and tradition and innovation that is really cool. The city has great energy. Bali is lush and beautiful. And I’ve never elsewhere encountered people so content with their surroundings. Venice was the most magical place I’ve ever been.  It shouldn’t exist but it does.  Hilton Head, South Carolina is easy and relaxing and I would go back any time. It is one of the best beaches I’ve found outside of Long Island, NY, which I am partial to because the beaches are wide and miles long and the ocean has character.

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Other than travel blogging, what do you do to remember your travels?  Do you buy souvenirs?

Our rule is that souvenirs ought to be useful. Aside from art work we mostly bring home food, cooking utensils, clothes, books, toys. We have a beautiful blanket from Indonesia that we use as a throw, a nice purse from Cambodia, dried chiles from Mexico, a Mona Lisa mug from Paris. It’s nice to encounter reminders of your trip as you go about cooking, putting on your coat, drinking your coffee, etc.

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What is your next destination and what are you looking forward to doing there?

We’re going to Philadelphia for a weekend. We will swim in the hotel pool, visit museums and eat cheese steaks. After the long winter we are most looking forward to the pool.

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Finally, if you could inspire someone to start traveling, which place would you recommend to him or her as a good starting destination and why?

Well if you’ve never traveled than just go anywhere. Just go!

See, I told you!  Eileen is full of great info and tips for family travel.  I completely understand looking for a hotel with a pool when you’re traveling with kids.  It gives them a chance to play and cool down.  I’m sure you’ll be interested in following her, so here are the links!

Pinterest: pinterest.com/familiesgo

Thanks to Eileen for a fantastic interview.  I can’t wait to hear more about those cheese steaks!  We loved them when we visited Philly!

If you are interested in reading other blogger interviews, check out our Rendezvous with Rovers page.  I’m always looking for new and inspiring blogs to follow and of course interview, so please contact me if you’re interested!

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